The Seger File

An unofficial web site about the music of Bob Seger Last updated June 1998 Edited by Scott Sparling sparling@segerfile.com

Why This Page Is Here: Getting Over Bob Seger

Start with this: There really is no getting over Bob Seger, not for me. I realized this more than twenty years ago, in a place called the Primo Showbar in Ann Arbor. The Primo was a low-rent beer joint with room at one end for risers where a band could play. It disappeared years ago and became a cluttered stereo repair shop, a ragged storefront on a ragged street -- yet I still walk by the place whenever I'm in Ann Arbor, which isn't often -- because it's there that I fell under the spell. Back then, the Primo's motto was "Dis Place is Smokin.'"

The place may have been smokin' but I wasn't -- I was flying. I was standing up front, in another world, watching a local rock 'n' roll star named Bob Seger close his eyes, tip his head back and sing in a way that made me feel more alive and more joyful than I could remember feeling in a long time. And I knew, way back then, that I would never get enough. And I never have.


Liking someone (or more precisely, liking what someone does) that much can be a double-edged sword. It's something to be treasured and, at times, a frustration -- because I always want more. This site, I admit, grows out of both feelings.

It began, specifically, in May 1996, when I spent most of a week trying to decide whether to fly from Oregon to Michigan to see Bob Seger play. Was it worth it? Was it worth $600 for airfare, a rental car, and concert tickets just to see Seger -- whom I had just seen in the Portland Rose Garden the month before? Was it worth the time away from my wife and our four-year old son, was it worth burning three or four hard-earned vacation days?

These were the wrong questions, of course. Naturally it would be worth it. The May concerts in Detroit might well be Seger's last -- ever. The energy, as the final encore burst out, would be something to savor, and its effect would become part of me forever. Deep down, I wanted to be there when Seger played his final concert -- because being there would make the connection stronger. Isn't that what we all seek when we listen to music, and particularly when we become fans -- connection?

The right question was whether it was practical, or -- worse yet -- whether it was justifiable. These two devils are much harder to come to terms with. For one thing, I have a family, and a job, and the responsibilities that go with them.

On top of this mix, there was the question of Jesse and T.L., two of my closest friends and founding members of what I call the Seger DEW line (about which, more later). Like me, Jesse lives in Oregon. But we grew up in Michigan together, and our craving for Seger is something we've shared note-for-note, song-by-song for more than half our lives. Seger is a part of the deep roots of our friendship. If I go, Jesse will go. If Jesse goes, I will go. No question. All it takes is for one of us to say, let's do it.


If we go, we won't go together, of course. I'll fly, he'll take the train. The reasons for this would take another web site to explain. And then there's T.L., who also grew up in Michigan. (Jesse, T.L. and I lived a few houses apart in Jackson, Michigan, the town where a young Seger honed his rock skills, playing month after month in the town's strip joint -- but that was more than thirty years ago, and we were barely in our teens.) T.L. was there during the Primo days, when we first quenched our Seger thirst. And unlike Jesse and I, T.L still lives in Michigan -- up north, in a house built by hand -- so he's just five hours from Pontiac, where Seger's concert will take place.

But T.L.'s interest in Seger has waned, and it will take some talking from both Jesse and I to convince him to drive down. Still, it could happen -- the three of us together, one more time. We've been the closest of friends for most of our lives, and Seger has provided the soundtrack for all the growing up we did together. Now, it is the rarest of times when we are all three in the same room. To get together again, for a Seger concert...only a fool would wonder whether it was worth it.

And yet it's not a small thing in my life to hop on a plane and fly to Michigan for a weekend. You can say the money doesn't matter, but the money does matter. Six hundred dollars -- at least -- to see one concert? A concert substantially the same as the one I just saw? Fifteen years from now, when my son is ready for college, what could that six hundred dollars be worth?

As for Jesse -- he walked away from his city job at the business magazine years ago to edit the newspaper in a town so small, you can blink and almost miss it. So he's out there in the Gorge, where the land is alive with magic, choosing quality of life over quantity of income. If I say 'let's go,' the money he will spend on this adventure will just be debt on top of debt.

And yet...Seger's final show. In Detroit, no less. One more layer, one more bond to the longest lasting friendships of my life. Is it worth it? Is it practical? Is it justifiable?

Ahh...life's terrible decisions. What to leave in, what to leave out.

In the end, we didn't go. And it turned out not to be Seger's final concert, either. Another 30 dates were added to the tour...capped by another "final" concert, also in Detroit.

So again, the agonizing decision had to be faced. And again, I didn't go -- for reasons that had to do with my family -- even though I happened to be just a few hours away in Ohio. Mainly because of that decision, I started in on this project. By turning my energy in a different direction, I thought I might "get over" my obsession with "Seger's last concert." Maybe the connection I didn't feel that night at Pine Knob, because I wasn't there, could be forged another way. Maybe, I thought, I could get over this whole obsessive Seger thing if I just wrote it all down.

Or maybe not.


Credit Where It's Due

I am the editor of the material that follows, but for the most part, not the author. I organized it, but the most of the information comes from other sources, which I have scrupulously tried to credit. I've done only a little primary research -- I've had maybe half a dozen brief and casual conversations with Seger or Punch over the past twenty-five years, mostly between sets or after shows at bars. A lot of the material in this site, of course, is merely my opinion or rantings, for which I do claim credit. But what you might call the hard information comes mainly from published sources.

There's nothing too different about that approach; much "biographical material" these days is culled from other sources. What is different is that I have generally chosen not to reword or paraphrase my sources: instead I quote them directly with attribution -- mainly because I think it's more interesting to hear Seger's voice, to hear the exact words he's chosen, rather than my summary of them.

The format is simple. All of the direct quotes are from Seger, unless they are labeled otherwise. To avoid repeating his name endlessly, most of Seger's quotes are not labeled, as in the following example:

 
"I didn't set out to make it a concept album, exactly, but there is a theme and it is renewal." Robert Hillburn, April 13, 1986, L.A. Times. "Bob Seger returns in the eye of the storm."

[The above is an unlabeled quote, which means it is Seger talking. With a few obvious exceptions, all unlabeled quotes are Seger.]

 
Seger: "I was aiming for a totally commercial album. Maybe it was a little too commercial, but I wanted to make sure I had three hit singles on it. I had never had a No. 1 album and I wanted one." Dennis Hunt, January 16, 1983, L.A. Times. "Seger: Hard Work and Low Profile"

[Sometimes, to avoid confusion, Seger's quotes are labeled, like the one above is.]

 
Don Was: A few of the ballads were "so naked and so emotional that when he was done singing, no one could speak afterward. A few of those songs didn't make the final cut. But I won't let them die." Susan Whitall, August 24, 1991, The Detroit News. "Long Way Home"

[This quote is from Don Was, and is labeled as such.]

In each case, immediately following the quote is the journalist's or interviewer's name, the date, the name of the publication and the name of the article. Sometimes the quotes run for more than one paragraph, in which case the attributing information is at the end of the final paragraph.


Graphics

Web pages are supposed to be full of graphics. Mine are full of information. I recognize that this is a radical, counter-intuitive approach -- using the "information superhighway" for information. But I'm a writer, not a graphic artist. Still, as I update the page, I'll add in some of my personal photographs, and a few posters, stickers and other graphics I've collected over the years.


Are We Anywhere Near Revisionism Street?

I remember a comment Seger once made about admiring the art, not the artist. (I think he was talking about James Brown at the time.) The point is that there's the music and there's the man, and I'm mainly interested in the music. At that same time, Seger's music is so personal and honest, it's hard not to cross the boundary. But the music has to be the driver, that's my rule. We only go into personal territory if the music takes us there, if it helps our understanding. Beyond that, I don't care where he lives or what he has for breakfast.

My other disclaimer is this: 99 percent of what follows is stuff that Seger has already said on the radio or to a print reporter. I've made no attempt to pry, and excepting my opinions, there's nothing here that you couldn't find for yourself at a good library, provided you were willing to put in the time.

All the same, I can imagine that someone who lives in the public eye might value his privacy and might not be thrilled about a web site like this. So I've tried to make it respectful. Seger loves biographies -- when they're honest and not revisionist -- and so do most readers. This material is offered in that spirit. As a bookstore is for bibliophiles, who love and collect books, the SegerFile is for Segerphiles -- a place to enjoy and share our love of the music


The Seger DEW Line

Finally, for their vigilance, my great thanks goes to the Seger DEW Line -- the Distant Early Warning Line. These are the people who call, write, fax, e-mail and send clippings whenever they hear some Seger news. In addition to Jesse and T.L., they are, primarily: Randy -- another great friend from way back -- my wife and my mom. All go back twenty years or more. Jesse and T.L. you've already met. Randy possesses a colossal store of music knowledge and enthusiasm, and has a gift for talking his way backstage and letting me tag along. As for my wife and my mom -- they more or less have to put up with my Seger obsession, and they do so pretty cheerfully. My mom's favorite Seger song is "Brand New Morning." My dad, who died not too long ago, had an autographed Seger album that he prized.

The DEW Line group has been indispensible to this effort. On a different level, but still important, are various fans I've met online, who occasionally send me tidbits or trade stories or opinions. Tall Yank is the dean of the internet's most active Seger board. He and another cyberfan named Phoenix have shared many stories and some of their collections with me. Thanks much to them, and to others who have egged me on to come up with opinions I didn't know I had, which is always a blessing. And finally, to the guy in front of me at the last Seger concert, who turned around overcome with joy and tried to hug my wife, all I can say is, Down in front, buddy. And let it rock.


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Do ya do ya wanna rock? Send your fond dreams, lost hopes, bittersweet regrets, half-remembered stories, rejoinders, rebuttals, questions, comments, corrections and contributions to:

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